All along, OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass said the fate of spring sports would mirror that of the schools.
That fate became official earlier this week when Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced at one of the more somber press conferences he’s had that schools and all related facilities will remain closed for the rest of the academic year due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“As we have stated in our previous communications, today’s announcement by Governor DeWine to close schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year also will now result in the cancellation of OHSAA-sponsored spring sports seasons including tournaments,” Snodgrass wrote Monday in a memo to school administrators.
With the social distancing guidelines still in place, it would simply be impossible to ensure the health and safety of the student-athletes, coaches and support personnel involved in practices and contests at all member schools, he added.
As was already the case, the OHSAA’s mandatory no-contact period remains in effect until at least May 3 with coaches and administrators encouraged to continue non-mandatory online communication with their student-athletes.
The decision is a major blow to everyone involved, especially the seniors, but one that needed to be made, Snodgrass said.
“I’ve heard from so many people who have said ‘You really need to understand what this means to our kids,’” he said. “I’m a parent. I was a coach. I grew up every day as a player and a coach wanting to play high school sports and get to the state tournament. So I do think I understand that. I also have to go with the fact that my number one concern that I have, over everything, is the health and safety of everyone involved.
“It’s not just our student-athletes. It’s the parents, coaches, umpires, officials, the scorekeepers. All those things enter into this. It’s a tough decision and it’s one that I and all the other Executive Directors of the other states never thought we would have to do. Never did I think this would be the case, but I’ve tried to be as prepared as I could every step of the way.”
Now, the question is how long will it be before high school sports can safely be contested?
“July is a very physical month for our student-athletes entering fall sports, so we have already started looking at, if this continues through the summer, we’ll have the potential of having a lot of kids who haven’t had the physical activity that they would normally have going into a fall season,” Snodgrass said. “So for the health and safety of everyone, we have to look at the acclimation periods going into the fall, if that happens. We have to be prepared for that.”